Sen. Hatch: "Taxes Are Already Heading Higher Than They Have Been Historically"

September 15, 2011 12:21 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Sen. Orrin Hatch

Reading from prepared remarks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking member on the committee, repeatedly claimed that "taxes are heading higher than they have been historically."

Those who promote tax increases don't come right out and announce their support, because they know that the American people rightly believe that their taxes are heading higher than they have been historically. [...]

Even without any new tax increases, taxes are already headed higher than they have been. [...]

So the question the American people are asking is, if taxes are already heading higher than they have been historically, should we raise them even more? [...]

If tax hike proponents actually engage in a factual debate over whether taxes should be raised, even though they are already headed higher than their historical average, I am confident that they will lose. [...]

I know where I stand on that question. Taxes are already heading higher than they have been historically. I can confirm that many in Utah agree with me, and I suspect that the vast majority of Americans do as well.

It's probably true that the majority of Utahans believe taxes are headed higher than they have been historically. But that likely has more to do with the fact that their senior senator is dishonest with them, just as he was at the hearing. Here, for instance, is a USA Today story from last year about how little taxes Americans pay.

Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found. [...]

Federal, state and local income taxes consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

Now, Hatch isn't saying that taxes are currently at the highest they've ever been. The implication, however, is that they're close to the highest and that, under the policies of the Obama administration, Americans will soon pay higher taxes than ever before. That's untrue, according to comments Hatch himself has made in the past.

Over the last several months, Hatch has repeatedly complained that 51 percent of Americans weren't paying income taxes (because they don't earn enough money to qualify, though they do pay many other kinds of taxes). "We should help the poor," he said in an interview in May. "But to make sure that there's a civic duty on the part of every one of us to help this government to, uh, to be better." "The poor need jobs," he said on the Senate floor in July. "And they also need to share some of the responsibility."

How is it possible that the majority of Americans simultaneously pay too little in taxes and the "vast majority of Americans" agree with Hatch that taxes "are already heading higher than they have been historically"?